The state of the current Tahoe backcountry is fresh pow! The present conditions are the best they’ve been all season with blower powder covering exactly where you want to be skiing and riding in our greater forecast area.
Since the last backcountry report aspect chasing for almost-corn snow and seeking out old recrystallized powder was the call. Then this weeks precipitation came in and changed that direction for the better. That said, poking around and motivating for chasing good snow was most certainly what most backcountry skiers and riders were getting into this past week.
Heading up to one of Tahoe’s highest peaks, Job’s Sister, my buddy Court and I found a little bit of everything. On our long, slogging tour we found some great sheltered powder in the seldom skied zone known as “Frimmer” that connects Trimmer Peak with Freel Peak. This is a great spot to check out if you have a day down the road where you are looking for cold winter snow when it appears there’s none to be found.
Higher up on the tour east aspects had started to soften, while later in the day western slopes were doing the same. The views of Tahoe’s tallest peak, Freel, were sweet with an interesting array of cloud cover adding to the vantage,
while the views of Lake Tahoe were as good as they get. Here’s a shot Court got on the skin up,
and another of Court as he made his way over to the edge of Job’s Sister for the scree climb to the summit at 10,823 feet.
The skiing from the top was a mix, but most easily characterized as wind-affected chalk. This is common at the tops of Tahoe’s tallest peaks, but the fun terrain and surroundings always balance whatever impurities there are in terms of snow texture.
Lower down on this 4,000+ foot run we found some great powder that felt like it had fallen the night before,
and played with the aspects as we weaved our way through the convoluted terrain back to the Horse Meadows TH.
Later in the week, heading up Mt. Tallac my partner Toby and I found more great powder hiding out on sheltered north aspects. However, as you can see things are still very thin on upper Tallac,
but that also made for a few spicy turns in areas that are usually buried this time of year.
As you can tell from those last two shots we had some weather roll in on us. It wasn’t anything too crazy, but it did make for a few memorable views out into Desolation Wilderness from the summit, like this one causing Pyramid Peak to look especially ominous.
Truth be told we suffered a bit and worked pretty hard to find the goods, but if you can find Toby in the middle of this shot, he’s kicking up a nice spray of powder, and this was again before any of the new precipitation that just came in.
As we moved into the weekend the temperatures spiked much higher than initially forecasted and the snow really took a turn, even all the dead-north powder that barely sees a drop of sun this time of year. I actually found some of the toughest turns I’ve had all year, which is saying something this season, before it finally snowed bringing Tahoe back into winter mode.
Monday’s storm left anywhere from 4-12″ new around Tahoe, with areas in the far south of Tahoe reporting up to 16″. Jake’s was phenomenal Monday with faceshots all over the upper part of the mountain with minimal instability noticed in the new snow. Just seeing the filtered view of Lake Tahoe with a fresh skintrack was enough to make the day a success,
although watching Derrick about to drop into happiness,
and Brendan not even trying, yet kicking up cold smoke was the real treat.
Tuesday was just as good as Monday on the West Shore, then Wednesday morning brought another 6 to even 10 inches depending on where you were skiing. Rubicon was amazing Wednesday, again, with cold light snow flying every which way and a bunch of happy people lapping it up.
One word of caution, even though the roads weren’t plowed yet, we got a warning for parking in the street of the Rubicon zone. Those of you that are familiar with this already know the deal, and for those of you who don’t understand, this warning speaks to a long disputed local scenario where access to backcountry skiing on Rubicon Peak is restricted, with many users having gotten tickets, even when skiers and riders are parking in areas where it’s obvious no one is impacted in the least. Hopefully something can worked out at some point as it’s been far too long for this BS to keep happening, especially when the skiing is this good and no home owner is impacted. All I gotta say is you can’t keep people from accessing the great mountains of Tahoe’s West Shore. That’s the real crime!
Looking ahead this week the “Evil E” is forecasted to be around for a few days. Hopefully it doesn’t blow all of this new snow to the flatlands in the west, but we’ll have to wait and see. Temperatures aren’t supposed to jack too high this week, and there’s even some hope of a few little storms brushing us by. It’s really weird to be so excited in Tahoe for little storms since I know one of the reasons I and many others got hooked on this place has been the ability to measure storms in feet, not inches, but the reality is this is what we’ve got and the backcountry skiing is better than good right now! More refreshers will just make conditions that much better!
In terms of avalanche danger my hasty pit observations on Wednesday did reveal a very noticeable crust about a foot or so down that predates this recent new snow, but the new snow from Monday already seemed to have bonded well to the old stuff, and today’s snow was staying put as well. Wind slabs as well as wind-affected areas are what you should watch out for currently, especially if the east winds do spike later Wednesday afternoon and continue for the next day or so. Overall, I’d say backcountry conditions have taken a major turn for the better and you should be out there letting snow hit you in the face right now! I’m taking a brief break from local skiing to venture to the land of Ja’Pow for a little bit so please make me jealous by slaying everything in sight with this beautiful new blanket of fresh that’s all over our local peaks, and stay current on snow stability analysis by checking in with SAC everyday before you head out. Happy Powder Days Tahoe!